Boylesque, “seems to be having its moment in New York night life,” The New York Times reported last year. Almost one year since the international publication spotlighted the underground brother of Burlesque, it appears to be as successful and popular as ever. With regular shows around New York City and the world, the shadowed spin on the classic art form made popular by the likes of Gypsy Rose Lee and myriad other women through the decades, is definitely having its male moment.
With underwear at the fore of nearly every boylesque performance, it’s safe to say that men’s underwear has been an integral part of this evolving expression. Also at the fore is nightlife entertainer and Boylesque star Go Go Harder. Hosting a monthly Boylesque cabaret in New York City called the Harder Wood Revue, Harder is making sure that his art form stays relevant, and continues to gain popularity. We spoke with Mr. Harder about the importance and use of men’s underwear in Boylesque, what his favorite stage performances featuring underwear have been and the evolution of Boylesque from taboo to mainstream.
Hey Go Go! Thanks for chatting with us. How big of a component would you say underwear is in Boylesque?
I would say underwear is definitely a huge component of the burlesque costume for male and female performers alike. Most striptease underwear and undergarments have either been re-rigged or completely constructed from scratch for specific break-away choreography and reveals. A lot of boylesk acts also tend to be “story-oriented” so ideally the final reveal of the underwear is thrilling for the audience and also relates back to the theme of the striptease. Plus, there’s the very real fact that as a stripper, I want to look “sexy,” onstage and thus need underwear that’s going to highlight my assets. Literally.
A lot of your acts play with masculine archetypes and breaking them down, how do you use your underwear to play into that?
I’d say the underwear plus the overall costume really helps me play with those archetypes. In general, I tend to keep my numbers still rooted in a “masculine” aesthetic, but with a slight twist. For example I have a number where I begin as a classy looking sailor and then rip away my costume to reveal all this fetish gear and a break away harness that I can spank myself and the audience with.
I think in many ways, the act of stripping to a g-string or c-cup, or jock strap is shocking enough for an audience because they’ve just seen this “big, strong cop/trucker/sailor/fire-fighter/etc.” be made completely vulnerable.
And about fetish, you play with that as well. Does that bleed into your underwear wardrobe off the stage?
Yes; I think the more I continue to work in nightlife and my recent expansion into the adult film world, the more I want clothing that isn’t just composed of snaps and spandex! I need a little bit of a separation from “stage Harder” and that definitely includes my underwear… jockstraps are always a go-to for me.
Underwear and nudity are still considered taboo in the mainstream, but Boylesque completely embraces undergarments and other accessories in the underwear family. What are your thoughts on underwear, sexuality and nudity as taboo in modern culture.
Well, I think in general its safe to say that Americans can be especially uptight about the expression of sex and sexuality. I do think though that women more so than men (even gay men) bare the brunt of this issue.
That said, what I’ve found in performing for gay men and even in nightlife, is that sometimes my performances make a person uncomfortable not because I’m stripping or going full nude, but because I’m presenting it in a less familiar form: boylesque. I’m not just a “dick on the bar” and likewise the performance I’m presenting is not just a strip.
Are you personally trying to break down this barrier with boylesque at all?
I think at the end of the day, whether I’m onstage, on a bar, or in front of the camera, I’ve always thought of myself as an entertainer. Ultimately, I just want to entertain people. That said, I do think specifically watching a striptease performer or sex worker who truly loves what they’re doing on stage is an inspiring and thrilling experience. People can spot a fake right away, especially New Yorkers. A performer who owns their work and owns their stage time in a way assures his or her audience that their’s nothing to be scared of or intimidated by when it comes to their bodies.
Alright, what’s your favorite brand off stage and why?
Nasty Pig. It stands to reason that it takes a gay man to craft a pair of underwear that gay men actually want to wear. You can have the best fabric, colors, patterns, etc, but to be blunt: if you’re dick looks small or the elastic gives you a muffin top, do you really want to wear it?
Do you have any underwear fetishes yourself?
Jock strap, jock strap, JOCK STRAP!
Note taken! Favorite brand on stage and why?
I actually make all of my stage underwear. I guess you could call it “Harder-Wear”!
You partnered with Baskit underwear for your last Revue, do you do give-aways and promotions regularly?
One aspect of my all male shows that I continually try to improve is prizes and give-aways for my audience members. Its great to go to an event and get a gift bag, but I also want to work with quality sponsors and products. I’ve been very lucky to get underwear, lube, sex toys, and films from some amazing companies: Baskitwear, Boy Butter, The Pleasure Chest and Cocky Boys. And I’m freaking out that Nasty Pig is sponsoring the next Harder-Wood Revue party with underwear for my dancers and the first 20 guys at the door.
Before we wrap this up, can you break down your top 3 Boylesque underwear moments?
Check out Go-Go’s top 3 underwear moments and more of the Boylesque stars best looks!
The next Harder Wood Revue takes place at the Headquarters Gentlemen’s Club at 2 West 38th St, New York, NY 10018 this Saturday, October 13. Admission is $10; the first 20 ticket holders will receive free Nasty Pig underwear. Miss Peppermint hosts; music by DJ Eddie Baez. 1/2 priced drinks from 8pm-9pm and 12am-1am! Doors open at 8 pm; performances start at 10 pm.